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Posts tagged ‘dharma’

Judgement vs Right Perception

Today I had an interesting conversation with students around the idea of judgement and acceptance. The conversation evoked inquiry, and ultimately a renewed clarity for me, and I hope for others as well.

In spiritual communities, judgement is sometimes misperceived as bad, especially in light of ideas like acceptance and kindness. However, judgements are neither good nor bad. They are simply a facet of the thinking mind. They may have some information to relay, often about the person judging, rather than the object or person that is being judged. If we allow it to be, without suppressing or reacting from it, we can come into greater clarity and alignment with life. This allowing is the essence of accepting.

Acceptance does not mean we submit to life all the time, nor that we tolerate disrespect or abuse. It simply means that in this moment, I surrender to what is. This surrendering is not one of resignation. It is alert and awake. It is feeling and sensing. Through this, there is the potential to come into clear relationship with life. In time, we may open into ‘right’ perception, ‘right’ words, and even ‘right’ action when Life is calling for it.

My use of ‘right’ has no opposite. This ‘right’ does not make anyone or any other opinion wrong. It simply states what feels true; what brings me into alignment and harmony with life. When this truth calls for us to say ‘no’ to something, as Eckhart Tolle describes, it will be a “high quality no” that is free of all reactivity. “Without egoic defensiveness, there will be power behind your words, yet no reactivity.” (A New Earth, pg. 216) This ‘right’ also has no good or bad. In fact, what feels right might be very uncomfortable to navigate at times.

A little more often now, I can discern ‘right’ perception from judgement. Judgement often has a charge to it, an edginess, a sense of inferiority or superiority. The words and action that stem from judgement are less than skillful, sometimes hurtful, and I have had my fair share. ‘Right’ perception on the other hand feels clear and even strong at times, yet it has a calm, grounded and open quality to it. Generally it does not arise through thinking, instead it emerges from the vast, open, wise ground of Being.

In Peace,

Thank you SAFE

After four weeks and forty hours of exploration, reflection and training with SAFE Alliance, I am in awe of the depth and the breadth of the work this organization does in an area that, lightly put, is difficult to navigate.  This training has enriched me in so many ways, and I am only just starting to integrate.  It has shed a much needed light on the broader history and social context of violence, abuse and oppression, and the systems that perpetuate them. In my own world, I am waking up to the norms, beliefs, and behaviors that support and normalize the aforementioned.  At the same time, I am becoming aware of the work being done in the way of prevention, intervention and advocacy.  In a world where I have at times felt helpless, I am beginning to see where I can become involved and engaged.

I have yet to see exactly where this path will take me, but I leave this training more informed and awake as a human being, a partner and especially as a parent of two incredible girls.  One of my greatest devotions is the work I do as a parent, the safety I can create in my home, and the way I can encourage my girls to see themselves and the world around them.  In my role as a teacher and a guide, I am ever more committed to creating and holding spaces that feel safe and grounded for those who come to explore meditation and self-inquiry.

This moment feels right and in harmony with where life has been leading me.

I am so grateful for the integrity, the heart and the devotion with which all of the staff and the presenters at SAFE led this training, and for all the people who choose to do this work … to stand up and speak for those who have been oppressed, abused and diminished.  I am inspired by their dedication to lifting these communities up, and seeing them as whole, unbroken and complete beings who have the great potential of finding and reclaiming their place in this world.

Most of all, thank you to my girls, my husband and my mom for their gracious support.  I know that this training would not have been possible without it.  ❤


Falling Gracefully.

Many people may believe that when you really begin to listen to the deep calling in your heart and follow it, that life will become easier, challenges may fall away.  In some ways this is true, but I don’t believe there is any human path without challenge. To be human is to experience all of this, success and failure, joy and sadness, comfort and discomfort.  Yet following our heart’s path enables us to meet all of life a little more effortlessly.  In this way, life will feel more aligned, in flow.  In the face of challenge and human faltering, something will feel so right that we cannot dismiss it.  Something will continue to flourish, even as challenges and doubts come and go.

In ways, I feel that we fall into our heartfelt path.  We fall gracefully because our conditioning holds us back less; the conditioning that leads me on a perpetual path of self aversion in the guise of self-improvement, the conditioning that leaves me feeling restless and not enough as I am.  Sometimes instead of doing the “right” things, it is about doing less and listening more.  Slowing down and listening can become a deliberate practice of Being (an undoing of sorts).

As much as we may seek a well designed, fail proof formula to uncover our hearts’ calling, the path calls us to rest in more moments of not knowing than knowing.  Courage and humility are essential.  The path will call us to try and fail often and humanly.  This builds character, grit and resilience.  And because of the inherent challenges we are bound to meet, self-compassion is so vital.  More so, we learn how to to celebrate the joys and triumphs, small and large, inner and outer, along the way.  Life is not meant to be perfect, life is meant to be whole and lived fully.

I know less than more about how all this happens, but I am curious and I continue to explore.  Kaylee Asbo’s words resonate with me.  Perhaps they will for you as well.

Yours,  Sheila

A Blessing for the New Year
Kayleen Asbo 

As the hours of darkness begin to slowly wane from the winter sky,
So too may the fearful places of your heart unclench their grasp on your life
As the presence of light begins to grow with greater sureness with each passing day
May your own courage blossom to open more brightly to truth and love.

May you break the invisible yardstick of impossible expectations
and learn that just as you are, you are enough.
May this be the year that you cease trying to march to an imagined ideal and instead, wrap your arms around the messy wonder your life really is, hold it close and do the tango.
Let this be the year you befriend your soul in its radical particularity,
not forsaking it yet again for the bland demands and cravings of the masses.
Instead, may you elope with the wildness of your own true calling,
marry your soul to its deepest longings and invite the hungry world to the wedding feast.


What has life been asking of you?

It is an interesting exercise to ask people to feel into their heart’s longing.  We may begin feeling, but often, too quickly, we begin to formulate our ideas and beliefs.  Feeling is a more ambiguous place to stay. I have found personally that the ideas and ideals we grasp onto often mimic the already assumed beliefs and expectations of what we think we should be doing, how we should be and what life should look like.  While our ideas may align with our heartfelt path, at times it diverges from it.  The good news is that we all come into this existence with an inner compass that is informing us whether we are in or out of harmony with life. However, when the voice of the world and the ego is strong and loud, it takes practice to listen to the quieter whispers of the Heart.

Listening to this that is more quiet and often ambiguous is not easy.  It requires courage and faith. Among the many things I continue to learn on my path, one is that life asks us to rest with many moments of not knowing than otherwise.  This can feel threatening to the ego that needs to figure things out. We can feel “out of control” because in those moments we are not in control.  Life is.  Grace is.  Rather than struggling to create the life we think we should have, we faithfully surrender to the life that is waiting for us.  This can unleash a powerful feeling of freedom and harmony.  Yes, this sounds like a complete paradox and it is.

So, are you willing to surrender your own will to the greater Will and longing of your Heart.  Perhaps instead of what do I want from life, consider what has life been asking of me? In a rational, thinking oriented and productivity based world, it is hard and often scary to listen to our hearts.  Yet when we don’t, life may feel more mechanical, less alive.  Which is harder in the end?

I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from Joseph Campbell.